I was recently asked to briefly explain the Gospel, and this is what I first wrote down (but afterward shortened dramatically).
The world is a mess. Cancer, corruption, cruelty... You can see it everywhere you look. Do you know why? It's because of me, and you. It's the fault of every human who has drawn breath in this atmosphere.
God didn't make the world this way. He made it perfect and beautiful. And then, the first humans broke the perfection by breaking the only rule they were given. That's called sin.
With that one act, the black sludge of sin was splattered on the purity of the universe. The crazy thing about sin is that it doesn't stay in one place; it spreads around until it has infected everything. It infected the earth, and now animals eat their young and flowers have thorns. It infected the universe, and now stars die. It infected the human mind, and we think things that would send us into hiding if anyone was to ever find out. It infected Adam and Eve's reproductive system, and every human born since has been tainted with it from conception.
But something else was also damaged by Sin. Something deeper than this physical world.
Before our First Parents brought Sin into the world, relationships were perfect. Can you imagine? To be loved perfectly? To love perfectly? To embrace in complete purity, to feel no pressure in a relationship, to be safe and secure, no competition, no withholding of love... It's almost impossible to wrap our minds around.
But that is how it was. Because that is how God loves. That's how He loved long before He made things like time and matter. He is not like anything we have ever seen. He is One being, but at the same time He is three persons, and those three persons created relationship. They love, and when God created Man, His most precious creation, He shared that love with us.
But Sin ruined all of that.
God is Perfect. The sludge of Sin cannot be near Him. When Adam and Eve brought it into His perfect world, their relationship with Him was broken.
So what would you do, if you were in God's place? If you had made something so beautiful, so intricate and amazing, if you had created billions of little creatures, from microbes to mammoths, and the two most special things you created ruined everything? Would you trash the whole thing and start again? Would you let it go on and on, getting worse and worse while you remained completely uninvolved, until your creation destroyed itself?
God did neither. Because He loves.
Instead, God made a promise.
A man had caused the damage. Only a man could fix it.
A man had messed up everything. He needed to pay for it. That's justice, and God is just.
But how can hands covered in sludge make something clean? They can't!
Could Adam's children right the wrong? No, because they were born with Sin in them.
Only a man who was born without Sin and lived a perfect life would be able to make up for the life of the Sinning Man.
But even a perfect life isn't enough. Because doing the work of sin comes with a paycheck: $death,000,000.
A crime against the God of Forever earns a Forever punishment.
But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which He loved us, sent His own Son! Remember when I talked about perfect relationships? The Son of God is one of the Persons of God; He is God, wrapped up in perfect love since before time.
The Son of God entered the womb of a virgin named Mary and lived a life just like every other human, with one vital difference: He never sinned. Not once. He never talked back to His parents, He never lied (not even a little), never cheated. He was perfect.
And then, after living a perfect life that could be credited to His creation's account, He died for His loved ones. But this was not an ordinary death. It wasn't even an ordinary torturous death (even though His body was tortured). It was a worse death than any human will ever die here, because when He died, He took on Himself EVERY SINGLE SIN that His people has committed or will commit. Every one. His body absorbed all of the sludge, and it was destroyed forever!
He did not stay dead, of course. He is God, the Author of life. In three days he rose from the dead, and soon returned to Heaven. He sent back another Person of the three, the Holy Spirit, to be with His people until He brings them to be with Him in the closeness they shared at the beginning of the world, before Sin ruined everything.
"Well that's great," you may be thinking, "but if that's true, why is there cancer? Why is there human trafficking? If the sludge was destroyed, why is everything still messed up?"
Because He only took the Sin of His people. The people who will turn their backs on Sin and return to Him as their true Lord. There's a way now. Without Jesus the sludge would hold us forever, but through Him there is hope! Turn to Him. Cry out to God to take away the sludge of your life and put Jesus' righteous life on your account. Admit to Him that you have created sludge of your own by sinning. Cling to His love, and follow Him as your Lord!